Where do we come from?
Quakerism was started by George Fox in 17th century England in an effort to return to essential Christianity. “Quaker” was originally a derogatory nickname, though it is now standard usage. Our formal name, the Religious Society of Friends, comes from our origins as “Friends of Truth,” and from Jesus’ designation of his disciples as “friends” .
What do we believe?
We believe that there is a light in all people that is the light of God, and that we are called to follow that light in ourselves and to find it in others.
Because we believe that our best words cannot fully express God or faith or religion, we do not insist that everyone use the same terminology. For this reason, we do not have a creed. We feel sure that there are many ways to experience God and to live justly and compassionately, and we prefer to share our insights, not impose them.
Friends have never shied away from controversy. Because they would not support a dictatorial church, they were persecuted in the 1600’s for heresy. They were among the first to condemn slavery, and as a result were vilified for not “respecting private property.” They were leaders of the women’s rights movement of the last century. Friends have traditionally supported the civil rights of all people and have opposed war, the draft, capital punishment, racial discrimination, drug and alcohol use, and gambling.
How do we worship?
When we come together to worship, we settle into a deep silence. In the silence, we pray, give thanks, consider our lives in relation to others and to God, or just try to listen for God’s guidance. There is no appointed minister. Anyone may be moved from within to speak and share their prayers, insights or concerns.
As we worship together in the divine presence, individual separateness recedes and we become truly a community gathered by God. We can feel the love and power in us all–God within and among us, teaching and supporting.
Our stillness in Meeting forces us to listen to others and to know better our own fears,
doubts, and failings. In silent worship we are gently called to see our common humanity and the divine spark in each of us which unites us in God and Christ. We are taught to live more fully by that light and vision. This shared experience is what has freed Friends to go out and work in the world, and is’ the source of whatever integrity we have.
Mohawk Valley Friends start Meeting for Worship on Sunday morning with ten minutes of hymn singing. The older children usually stay in Meeting for the first half hour, then go with a teacher to their own activities. We do not dress up for Meeting, nor do we take a collection.
Where do we meet?
New Swarthmoor Meetinghouse, home of the Mohawk Valley Friends Meeting, is named for the New Swarthmoor community of Young Friends who lived and worshipped on this property in the early 1970s. The name came from Swarthmoor Hall in England, an early center of Quaker activity and later the home of George Fox following his marriage to Margaret Fell.
How can I find out more?
You would be very welcome to join us for worship on Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m.
We welcome people from all walks of life, cultures, and religious backgrounds–and all ages.